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Pox epidemic: How it affects you

Monkeypox

Monkey Pox is another epidemic this country has seen in recent times. Monkeypox is a virus which is carried by monkeys but which can be spread by other wild animals. According to the Bayelsa State Ministry of Health, the first state to witness the outbreak of monkey pox, the virus enters the human body through a broken skin; it enters through the membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth. An individual can be infected if bitten by an infected animal or through a direct contact with bodily fluids of lesions of patients who are down with the disease already.

Beddings and other materials contaminated are agents as human to human infection can come through droplet infections with direct contact with bodily fluids or lesions and materials which have been in direct contact with the infected clothing.

The state health authorities say that hygiene is key to prevention. “Wash hands after you have touched an animal which is dead or alive”, Professor Ebitimula Etebu, stated, adding, “Wash hands after you have used the toilet. Encourage those around you to do the same”

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar to those of chicken pox. Children are mostly to be considered when these epidemics break out.

Chicken Pox
Chicken Pox, which is also called varicella, can still be found in the world although a vaccine was introduced in 1995 in the United States of America. Before that time about four million people, most of them children, were infected yearly. About 10,000 people were hospitalised as a result of the infection; about 100, most of them adults or infants under the age of one. From 1995 to 2005 about 26,000 cases were reported 170 were hospitalised. In 2002, nine deaths were recorded from the complications of the infection; 2003 and 2004, eight deaths were reported; it is estimated that the varicella vaccine has brought a decrease in infection to up to 85 per cent and more than 75 per cent in hospitalisation. It is thought that the vaccination is up to about 80 or 90% effective in preventing infection and up to 95% effective against severe infection. If a vaccinated person has the infection, it would milder with less blistering lesions.After vaccination, the chance of developing serious complications like pneumonia, skin infections, bleeding problems and encephalitis is lower.

In Pregnancy
If you have it in pregnancy, your baby may not be affected but if it occurs during the first or second trimester, there is small risk of baby getting congenital varicella syndrome but the risk is highest if you are infected between 13 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Congenital varicella comes with birth defects like skin scaring, malformed limbs, an abnormally small head, poor learning ability and eye problems. A baby who has congenital varicella syndrome may grow poorly in the womb and suffer from seizures as well as physical and mental development disabilities. Chicken pox infection during pregnancy may increase the risk of a miscarriage and stillbirth. If you have it close to your due date, chances are that baby is protected; that is because, your body produces antibodies to the virus about five days after you are down with the symptoms. The antibodies are the passed on to your baby through the placenta; this provides a protection that his own immature immune system cannot give.

However, the most risky time for baby is when you come down between five days within giving birth and two days after delivery, because at this time baby is exposed to the virus but has not enough time to get the protection from you. When this happens, there is up to 50 per cent chances that baby will develop neonatal varicella or newborn chicken pox, a condition which is known to be life-threatening if left untreated. However, the risk of severe infection is reduced if baby is vaccinated with varicella zoster immune globulin, a blood product that contains chicken antibodies. Your baby will be given the shot soon after birth if you caught chicken pox within five days of delivery or as soon as you discover a rash within two days of delivery.

For the mother, the risk to health is greater now than you are pregnant. As an adult, you are already at a risk because the grown-up is more likely to develop varicella pneumonia than a child who has chicken-pox which can be very serious and life threatening. It is the major cause of preterm birth.

In this article:
Ebitimula EtebuMonkeypox


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